Money Laundering: EFCC Re-arraigns Fani-Kayode

A Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, was Monday morning re-arraigned before a Federal High court in Lagos, southwest Nigeria, for alleged money laundering offences.

The re-arraignment became necessary because the judge who was initially trying the case, Justice Binta Murtala Nyako has been transferred to Makurdi Division of the Federal High court.

Consequently, the new judge, Justice Ofili Ajumoghobia, has taken over the case.

In the 47-count charge, Mr Fani-Kayode, between November 2006 and January 2007, while serving as minister of Aviation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, was alleged to have made some financial transactions exceeding N500,000 which was not done through a financial institution by accepting tax payment of N10 million, which sum was further carried in cash to First Inland Bank, Apapa branch, through one Mark Saviour Ndifreke, his own associate now at large, and put it in an investment account in his favour for 90 days.

Other various sums of money amounting to about N180 million was also allegedly paid into his account in cash through two other people, Supo Agbaje, his administrative staff, and his wife, Regina Fani-Kayode (now at large).

The accused former minister, pleaded not guilty to all the 47-count charge.

Consequently, his lawyer, Ladi Williams, leading three other lawyers and Senor Advocates of Nigeria, Wale Babalakin, Wale Akoni and Ifedapo Adedipe urged the court to allow Mr Fani-Kayode continue on his former bail granted to him.

The EFCC prosecuting counsel, Nelson Okedinachi, did not oppose, but asked for a trial date.

Consequently, with the agreement of both parties, the matter was adjourned till 11 March for trial.

Media chat: You are wrong about Odi, Obasanjo tells Jonathan

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday rebuffed claims by President Goodluck Jonathan that the army invasion of Odi – a small community in Bayelsa state – in 1999 was a failure.

During last Sunday’s presidential media chat, President Jonathan had said that the invasion of Odi ordered by Mr Obasanjo in 1999 was a failure.
He had said: “After that invasion, myself and the governor entered Odi…and saw some dead people. Most of the people that died in Odi were mostly old men, women and children, none of the militants was killed.

“If bombarding Odi was to solve the problem, then it was never solved. If the attack on Odi had solved the problem of militancy in the Niger Delta, then the Yar’ Adua government would not have come up with the Amnesty programme. So, that should tell you that the attack on Odi never solved the militancy problem and we had more challenges after that attack on Odi.”

Reacting to these assertions, Femi Fani-Kayode, who served as Special Assistant on Public Affairs and subsequently Minister of Aviation during Mr Obasanjo regime, released a press statement claiming that the invasion of Odi not only killed the militants but decimated their capacity to wage acts of terror against the state.

The statement reads: “During a live broadcast of the Presidential Media Chat to the nation on the evening of November 18, 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan said that the military operation in Odi by the Nigerian Armed Forces in 1999, which was ordered by President Olusegun Obasanjo, did not solve the problem or stop the killing of soldiers, policemen and innocent civilians in the Niger Delta area by the terrorists and militants. He also said that all he saw in Odi after he went there on an official visit as Deputy Governor were the dead bodies of old people. With the greatest respect to Mr. President this is factually incorrect. He has either forgotten the relevant facts or he has been misinformed. Whichever way he is mistaken and it is important for those of us that proudly served the Obasanjo administration to respond to him in order to clarify the issues, clear the air and set the record straight for the sake of history and posterity.

“I had the privilege of being briefed about all the facts by President Olusegun Obasanjo himself and Col. Kayode Are, the former DG of the SSS, immediately after the Presidential Media Chat and I believe that it is appropriate to share some of those facts with members of the Nigerian public given the grave assertion and serious charge that President Jonathan has made. Those facts are as follows:
Why Army invaded Odi

“Five policemen and four soldiers were killed by a group of Niger Delta militants when they tried to enter the town of Odi in Bayelsa State in order to effect their arrest. This happened in 1999. After the brutal killing of these security personnel, President Olusegun Obasanjo asked the then Governor of Bayelsa State, Governor Alamieyeseigha, to identify, locate, apprehend and hand over the perpetrators of that crime.

“The Governor said that he was unable to do so and President Obasanjo, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, took the position that security personnel could not be killed with impunity under his watch without a strong and appropriate response from the Federal Government. Consequently he sent the military in, to uproot and kill the terrorists and to destroy their operational base which was the town of Odi. The operation was carried out with military precision and efficiency and it’s objectives were fully achieved. The terrorists were either killed and those that were not killed fled their operational base in Odi. They were uprooted, weakened, demoralised and completely dispersed. That was the purpose of the whole exercise and that purpose was achieved. The truth is that the killing of security agents and soldiers with impunity by the Niger Delta militants virtually stopped after the operation in Odi and remained at a bare minimum right up until the time that President Obasanjo left power eight years later in 2007. I advise those that doubt this to go and check the records.

“The same thing was done in Zaki-Biam in Benue State in the North-central zone of Nigeria in 2001 after 19 soldiers were murdered in cold blood and then brutally beheaded by some terrorists from that area. Again after the Federal Government’s strong military response in Zaki Biam, the killing of security personnel with impunity stopped. The objectives of the military operations in both Odi and Zaki-Biam were to stop such killings, to eliminate and deal a fatal blow to those that perpetrated them and to discourage those that may seek to carry out such barbarous butchery and mindless violence in the future.

“Those were the objectives and nothing more and clearly those objectives were achieved. There is no doubt that after Odi, there were still unrest, agitations, protests, kidnappings and the blowing up and sabotage of oil pipelines in the Niger Delta area but there were hardly any more attacks on or killing of soldiers and security personnel by the terrorists and militants because they knew that to do that would attract a swift and forceful reaction and terrible retribution from the Nigerian military.
Invasions objective achieved

“To stop and deter those attacks and killings was the objective of President Obasanjo and that objective was achieved. President Goodluck Jonathan was therefore in error when he said that Odi did not solve the problem of killings in the Niger Delta area by the Niger Delta militants. Not only did it stop the killings but it is also an eloquent testimony of how to deal with terrorists, how to handle those that kill our security personnel with impunity and how to deter militants from killing members of our civilian population and thinking that they can get away with it. If President Obasanjo had not taken that strong action at that time, many more of our civilian population and security personnel would have been killed by the Niger Delta militants between 1999 and 2007.

“By doing what he did at Odi and Zaki-Biam, President Obasanjo saved the lives of many and put a stop to the killings and terrorism that had taken root in the Niger Delta area prior to that time.”

The former Aviation minister also said Mr Obasanjo’s comments last week on how to solve the Boko Haram problem were misconstrued and misrepresented in certain quarters.

“He never said that the Odi treatment should be applied to Boko Haram or that such action is appropriate in these circumstances. What he said was that a solution ought to have been found or some sort of action ought to have been taken sooner rather than allow the problem to fester over time like a bad wound and get worse.

“There can be no doubt that he was right on this because, according to President Jonathan’s own Chief of Army Staff, no less than 3000 people have been killed by Boko Haram in the last two years alone. That figure represents approximately the same number of people that were killed by the IRA in Northern Ireland and the British mainland in the 100 years that the war between them and British lasted and before peace was achieved between the two sides.

“The same number of casualties that the IRA inflicted on the people of the United Kingdom in 100 years, is the same number of casualties that Boko Haram have managed to inflict on our people in just two. This is unacceptable and it is very disturbing. The Federal Government must cultivate the courage and the political will to stop the killings by Boko Haram and to find a permanent solution to the problem.”

Nigerian lawyers are corrupt – former minister

A former minister of information, Chief Edwin Clark has called on the Nigerian judicial system to put its house in order, claiming that both the bar and bench have thrown away ethics of the profession.

The Ijaw leader made this known on Wednesday in Abuja, where he was the guest lecturer of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies’ (NIALS) annual lecture on the State of the Federation.

According to Chief Clark, “The Bench and The Bar have some questions to answer.”

“Both the bench and the bar are not doing anything to address corruption and if nothing is done about it, Nigeria will remain in the bottom list of corrupt countries in the world” he affirmed.

He made an example of an injunction granted the former governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili by a Court that prevents any possibility of him facing a trial in the country.

“Peter Odili was found to have stolen N100billion of Rivers state fund and today he is a free man and parading himself as a state’s man” he said.

Citing more complicities of judges and lawyers, Chief Clark named former governors such as Joshua Dariye, Ayo Fayose, Saminu Turaki, Uzor Orji Kalu, as some of the former governors whose trial on corruption charges are stalling in courts due to series of adjournments, and injunctions by their lawyers and judges.

“Their cases are adjourned and adjourned and nothing is happening” he stated annoyingly.

After alleging that former Minister of Aviation Femi Fani-Kayode embezzled some funds, meant for the aviation sector, the Ijaw leader stated that “Femi Fani-Kayode is now parading himself as a moral icon, so why will people not steal” Chief Edwin Clark asked.

“If we don’t fix corruption in this country…we are going nowhere” he concluded.

 

Go and face your fraud trial Supreme Court tells Fani-Kayode

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the appeal filed by former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode challenging the admissibility of computer generated statement of accounts under the old Evidence Act.

The appeal was sequel to an objection raised at the Federal High Court by counsel to Mr. Fani-Kayode, Ladi Williams as to the admissibility of computer generated statement of accounts of the former minister.

Though this objection was sustained by the trial court, the Court of Appeal in its judgment set aside the decision of the trial court presided over by Justice A. R. Mohammed and admitted the said Statement of Accounts in evidence.
Mr. Fani-Kayode appealed against the decision of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court.

Whilst the matter was pending at the Supreme Court, the Evidence Act was amended and Computer-Generated Bank Statements were made clearly admissible by Section 84 of the new Evidence Act. At the same time, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court in exercising his administrative powers transferred Justice Mohammed from the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court to Enugu Division and the matter was therefore re-assigned to a new Judge, Justice Binta Nyako.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission through its counsel, Festus Keyamo, therefore, filed a motion to dismiss the appeal before the Supreme Court arguing that the appeal has become academic in that the proceedings that gave rise to the appeal no longer exists.

At a resumed hearing of the appeal on Thursday, the panel of the Supreme Court, after taking oral arguments from Mr. Williams and Mr. Keyamo, concluded that the appeal has indeed become academic in that the proceedings that gave rise to the appeal have become spent.

The Supreme Court therefore directed Mr. Williams to withdraw the appeal. The appeal was subsequently dismissed for being academic, while Mr. Fani-Kayode was directed to go back to the new Judge, Justice Nyako, to face his trial.

Meanwhile, the matter has been adjourned to October 10, 2012 for hearing.

Fani-Kayode’s trial adjourned to October

The trial of the former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, on allegations of money laundering has been fixed for the 10th of October, by Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako of a Federal High Court in Lagos.

The judge fixed the date after she turned down his request to stay further proceedings in the matter pending the determination of an appeal he filed at the Supreme Court on the admissibility of his statements of account as evidence by the Court of Appeal.

Fani-Kayode’s counsel, Chris Uche (SAN),had informed the court that a motion exhibiting the Certified True Copy(CTC) and the notice of hearing of the matter has been filed at the Supreme Court.

He thereafter urged the court to adjourn the matter pending the determination of the appeal.

This request was however opposed by counsel the Economic and financial Crimes Commision (EFCC), Nelson Okedinachi, who insisted that the defence team is only looking for an avenue to stall the matter.

He argued that the appeal before the Supreme Court is merely an academic exercise since the matter is to start afresh before Justice Binta Murtala Nyako.

He then urged the court to discountenance the motion and fix a date for the trial of the accused person.

Justice Nyako however declined to stay proceedings on the grounds that the appeal had only to do with the admissibility of a document and nothing to do with the matter before her.
She then adjourned the matter to the 10th of October for hearing.

The former Minister on the 16th of February, 2012, was re-arraigned by the EFCC on a 47-counts of money laundering before Justice Binta Murtala Nyako.

His re-arraignment was occasioned by the re-assignment of the case by the Chief Judge owing to the transfer of Justice Ramat Mohammed who was handling the matter before.

Mr Femi Fani Kayode had earlier been arraigned on a similar charge before Justice Ramat Mohammed in December, 2008.